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CdM answers quickly

Sea Kings drop first game, but respond and advance to Southern California regional semifinal at Elsinore High.

November 24, 2009|By Tony Lee

RAMONA — Darryl Gan said in order for the Corona del Mar High girls’ volleyball team to be successful, it needs to play a balanced match.

The CdM co-coach also said after coming off a heartbreaking four-set loss to Redlands East Valley in the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA championship match Saturday, the Sea Kings needed to remember that their season isn’t over yet and continue to work hard and focus on their game.

In the opening round of the CIF State Division II playoffs Tuesday, CdM accomplished Gan’s goals and defeated Ramona High of San Diego County, 23-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-18, despite squandering a 16-10 lead to start off the match.

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“There was no [individuality] and we were all in this together,” said CdM senior captain Madie Smith, who paced the Sea Kings’ offense with 46 assists. “We all played as a team. The energy in our first game wasn’t too good, but our energy in the last three was awesome.”

A good portion of Smith’s sets went to junior Claire Ham, who ended up with 19 kills and six block assists to lead CdM in both categories.

But beside the one-two punch of Smith to Ham, the Sea Kings displayed how dangerous they can be with a balanced offense as Amanda Nickel, Mary McKennon, Morgan Boukather and Sydney Brombal compiled eight kills each for CdM (29-6). Boukather, a junior outside hitter, sat out the first set because of soreness in her back and shoulder.

“Claire was unstoppable,” Gan said. “[But our offense] was easily distributed all around so it was good.”

Gan added that Smith, who also led the Sea Kings with 12 digs, has consistently put CdM in winning situations all season and facilitates the balanced attack.

“She’s a captain in every sense of the word,” Gan said of Smith. “Obviously it’s a team effort and she’s just one part of that effort, but she does make a lot of key choices for us to be successful in the long run.”

The Sea Kings consistently had a comfortable four- to six-point lead in most of the sets, but when Ramona (24-10) cut the lead down to one or two, it was Smith and Ham who led a mini-run to sway the momentum back on CdM’s side.

“She was on fire tonight,” Smith said of Ham. “I could count on her every time. That’s definitely something that helped us a lot. I think she did a really good job of getting up, seeing the block and hitting around it.”

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